Meantime the date of Cavalier's departure drew near. A town was to be named in which he was to reside at a sufficient distance from the theatre of war to prevent the rebels from depending on him any more; in this town he was to organise his regiment, and as soon as it was complete it was to go, under his command, to Spain, and fight for the king. M. de Villars was still on the same friendly terms with him, treating him, not like a rebel, but according to his new rank in the French army. On the 21st June he told him that he was to get ready to leave the next day, and at the same time he handed him an advance on their future pay--fifty Louis for himself, thirty for Daniel Billard, who had been made lieutenant-colonel in the place of Ravanel, ten for each captain, five for each lieutenant, two for each sergeant, and one for each private. The number of his followers had then reached one hundred and fifty, only sixty of whom were armed. M. de Vassiniac, major in the Fimarcn regiment, accompanied them with fifty dragoons and fifty of the rank and file from Hainault.
All along the road Cavalier and his men met with a courteous reception; at Macon they found orders awaiting them to halt. Cavalier at once wrote to M. de Chamillard to tell him that he had things of importance to communicate to him, and the minister sent a courier of the Cabinet called Lavallee to bring Cavalier to Versailles. This message more than fulfilled all Cavalier's hopes: he knew that he had been greatly talked about at court, and in spite of his natural modesty the reception he had met with at Times had given him new ideas, if not of his own merit, at least of his own importance. Besides, he felt that his services to the king deserved some recognition.
The way in which Cavalier was received by Chamillard did not disturb these golden dreams: the minister welcomed the young colonel like a man whose worth he appreciated, and told him that the great lords and ladies of the court were not less favourably disposed towards him. The next day Chamillard announced to Cavalier that the king desired to see him, and that he was to keep himself prepared for a summons to court. Two days later, Cavalier received a letter from the minister telling him to be at the palace at four o'clock in the afternoon, and he would place him on the grand staircase, up which the king would pass.
Cavalier put on his handsomest clothes, for the first time in his life perhaps taking trouble with his toilet. He had fine features, to which his extreme youth, his long fair hair, and the gentle expression of his eyes lent much charm. Two years of warfare had given him a martial air; in short, even among the most elegant, he might pass as a beau cavalier.
At three o'clock he reached Versailles, and found Chamillard waiting for him; all the courtiers of every rank were in a state of great excitement, for they had learned that the great Louis had expressed a wish to meet the late Cevenol chief, whose name had been pronounced so loud and so often in the mountains of Languedoc that its echoes had resounded in the halls of Versailles. Cavalier had not been mistaken in thinking that everyone was curious to see him, only as no one yet knew in what light the king regarded him, the courtiers dared not accost him for fear of compromising their dignity; the manner of his reception by His Majesty would regulate the warmth of his reception by everyone else.
Met thus by looks of curiosity and affected silence, the young colonel felt some embarrassment, and this increased when Chamillard, who had accompanied him to his appointed place, left him to rejoin the king. However, in a few moments he did what embarrassed people so often do, hid his shyness under an air of disdain, and, leaning on the balustrade, crossed his legs and played with the feather of his hat.
When half an hour had passed in this manner, a great commotion was heard: Cavalier turned in the direction from which it came, and perceived the king just entering the vestibule. It was the first time he had seen him, but he recognized him at once. Cavalier's knees knocked together and his face flushed.
The king mounted the stairs step by step with his usual dignity, stopping from time to time to say a word or make a sign with head or hand. Behind him, two steps lower, came Chamillard, moving and stopping as the king moved and stopped, and answering the questions which His Majesty put to him in a respectful but formal and precise manner.
Reaching the level on which Cavalier stood, the king stopped under pretext of pointing out to Chamillard a new ceiling which Le Brun had just finished, but really to have a good look at the singular man who had maintained a struggle against two marshals of France and treated with a third on equal terms. When he had examined him quite at his ease, he turned to Chamillard, pretending he had only just caught sight of the stranger, and asked:
"Who is this young gentleman?"
"Sire," answered the minister, stepping forward to present him to the king, "this is Colonel Jean Cavalier."
"Ah yes," said the king contemptuously, "the former baker of Anduze!"
And shrugging his shoulders disdainfully, he passed on.
Cavalier on his side had, like Chamillard, taken a step forward, when the scornful answer of the great king changed him into a statue. For an instant he stood motionless and pale as death, then instinctively he laid his hand on his sword, but becoming conscious that he was lost if he remained an instant longer among these people, whom not one of his motions escaped, although they pretended to despise him too much to be aware of his presence, he dashed down the staircase and through the hall, upsetting two or three footmen who were in his way, hurried into the garden, ran across it at full speed, and regaining his room at the hotel, threw himself on the floor, where he rolled like a maniac, uttering cries of rage, and cursing the hour when, trusting to the promises of M. de Villars, he had abandoned the mountains where he was as much a king as Louis XIV at Versailles. The same evening he received orders to leave Paris and rejoin his regiment at Macon. He therefore set out the next morning, without seeing M. de Chamillard again.
Cavalier on arriving at Macon found that his comrades had had a visit from M. d'Aygaliers, who had come again to Paris, in the hope of obtaining more from the king than M. de Villars could or would grant.
Cavalier, without telling his comrades of the strange manner in which the king had received him, gave them to understand that he was beginning to fear that not only would the promises they had received be broken, but that some strange trick would be played upon them.
Thereupon these men, whose chief and oracle he had been for so long, asked him what they ought to do; Cavalier replied that if they would follow him, their best course and his would be to take the first opportunity of gaining the frontier and leaving the country. They all declared themselves ready to follow him anywhere. This caused Cavalier a new pang of regret, for he could not help recollecting that he had once had under his command fifteen hundred men like these.
The next day Cavalier and his comrades set out on their march without knowing whither they were being taken, not having been able to obtain any information as to their destination from their escort--a silence which confirmed them in their resolution. As soon, therefore, as they reached Onnan, Cavalier declared that he considered that the looked-for opportunity had arrived, asking them if they were still in the same mind: they returned that they would do whatever he advised. Cavalier then ordered them to hold themselves in readiness, Daniel offered up a prayer, and the prayer ended, the whole company deserted in a body, and, crossing Mont Belliard, entered Porentruy, and took the road to Lausanne.
Meantime d'Aygaliers, in his turn, arrived at Versailles, with letters from M. de Villars for the Duke of Beauvilliers, president of the king's council, and for Chamillard. The evening of his arrival he delivered these letters to those to whom they were addressed, and both gentlemen promised to present him to the king.
Four days later, Chamillard sent word to d'Aygaliers that he was to be next day at the door of the king's chamber at the time when the council entered. D'Aygaliers was punctual, the king appeared at the usual hour, and as he paused before d'Aygaliers, Chamillard came forward and said:
"Baron d'Aygaliers, sire."
"I am very glad to see you, sir," said the king, "for I am very much pleased with the zeal you have displayed in Languedoc in my service--very much pleased indeed."
"Sire," answered d'Aygaliers, "I consider myself most unfortunate in that I have been able to accomplish nothing deserving of the gracious words which your Majesty deigns to address me, and I pray God of His grace to grant me in the future an opportunity of proving my zeal and loyalty in your Majesty's service more clearly than hitherto."
"Never mind, never mind," said the king. "I repeat, sir, that I am very much pleased with what you have done."
And he entered the room where the council was waiting.
D'Aygaliers went away only half satisfied: he had not come so far only to receive commendation from the king, but in the hope of obtaining some concession for his brethren; but with Louis XIV it was impossible either to intercede or complain, one could only wait.
The same evening Chamillard sent for the baron, and told him that as Marechal Villars had mentioned in his letter that the Camisards had great confidence in him, d'Aygaliers, he wished to ask him if he were willing to go once more to them and try and bring them back to the path of duty.
"Certainly I am willing; but I fear things have now got so far that there will be great difficulty in calming the general perturbation of mind."
"But what can these people want?" asked Chamillard, as if he had just heard them spoken of for the first time, "and by what means can we pacify them?"
"In my opinion," said the baron, "the king should allow to all his subjects the free exercise of their religion."
"What! legalise once more the exercise of the so-called Reformed religion!" exclaimed the minister. "Be sure you never mention such a thing again. The king would rather see his kingdom destroyed than consent to such a measure."
"Monseigneur," replied the baron, "if that is the case, then I must say with great regret that I know of no other way to calm the discontent which will ultimately result in the ruin of one of the fairest provinces in France."
"But that is unheard-of obstinacy," said the minister, lost in astonishment; "these people will destroy themselves, and drag their country down with them. If they cannot conform to our religion, why do they not worship God in their own way at home? No one will disturb them as long as they don't insist on public worship."
"At first that was all they wanted, monseigneur; and I am convinced that if people had not been dragged to confession and communion by force, it would have been easy to keep them in that submissive frame of mind from which they were only driven by despair; but at present they say that it is not enough to pray at home, they want to be married, to have their children baptised and instructed, and to die and be buried according to the ordinances of their own faith."
"Where may you have seen anyone who was ever made to communicate by force?" asked Chamillard.
D'Aygaliers looked at the minister in surprise, thinking he spoke in joke; but seeing he was quite serious, he answered:
"Alas, monseigneur, my late father and my mother, who is still living, are both instances of people subjected to this indignity."
"Are you, then, not a Catholic?" asked Chamillard.
"No, monseigneur," replied d'Aygaliers.
"Then how did you manage to return to France?"
"To speak the truth, sir, I only came back to help my mother to escape; but she never could make up her mind to leave France, as such a step was surrounded by many difficulties which she feared she could never surmount. So she asked my other relations to persuade me to remain. I yielded to their importunities on condition that they would never interfere with my beliefs. To accomplish this end they got a priest with whom they were intimate to say that I had changed my views once more, and I did not contradict the report. It was a great sin on my part, and I deeply repent it. I must add, however, that whenever anyone has asked me the question your Excellency asked me just now I have always given the same reply."
The minister did not seem to take the baron's frankness in bad part; only he remarked, when dismissing him, that he hoped he would find out some way of ridding the kingdom of those who refused to think in religious matters as His Majesty commanded.
D'Aygaliers replied that it was a problem to which he had given much thought, but without ever being able to find a solution, but that he would think about it more earnestly in future. He then withdrew.
Some days later, Chamillard sent ward to d'Aygaliers that the king would graciously give him a farewell audience. The baron relates what took place at this second interview, as follows.
"His Majesty," says he, "received me in the council chamber, and was so good as to repeat once more in the presence of all his ministers that he was very much pleased with my services, but that there was one thing about me he should like to correct. I begged His Majesty to tell me what the fault was, and I should try to get rid of it at, the peril of my life."
"'It is your religion,' said the king. 'I should like to have you become a good Catholic, so that I might be able to grant you favours and enable you to serve me better.' His Majesty added that I ought to seek instruction, and that then I should one day recognise what a great benefit he desired to bring within my reach.
"I answered that I would esteem myself happy if at the cost of my life I could prove the burning zeal with which I was filled for the service of the greatest of earthly kings, but that I should be unworthy of the least of his favours if I obtained it by hypocrisy or by anything of which my conscience did not approve, but that I was grateful for the goodness which made him anxious for my salvation. I told him also that I had already taken every opportunity of receiving instruction, and had tried to put aside the prejudices arising from my birth, such as often hindered people from recognising the truth, with the result that I had at one time almost lost all sense of religion, until God, taking pity on me, had opened my eyes and brought me out of that deplorable condition, making me see that the faith in which I had been born was the only one for me. 'And I can assure your Majesty,' I added, 'that many of the Languedoc bishops who ought, it seems to me, to try to make us Catholics, are the instruments which Providence uses to prevent us from becoming so. For instead of attracting us by gentleness and good example, they ceaselessly subject us to all kinds of persecutions, as if to convince us that God is punishing us for our cowardice in giving up a religion which we know to be good, by delivering us up to pastors who, far from labouring to assure our salvation, use all their efforts to drive us to despair."
"At this the king shrugged his shoulders and said, 'Enough, do not say any more.' I asked for his blessing as the king and father of all his subjects. The king burst out laughing, and told me that M. de Chamillard would give me his orders."
In virtue of this intimation d'Aygaliers went next day to the minister's country house; for Chamillard had given him that address, and there he learned that the king had granted him a pension of 800 livres. The baron remarked that, not having worked for money, he had hoped for a better reward; as far as money was concerned, he desired only the reimbursement of the actual expenses of his journeys to and from, but Chamillard answered that the king expected all that he offered and whatever he offered to be accepted with gratitude. To this there was no possible reply, so the same evening d'Aygaliers set out on his return to Languedoc.
Three months later, Chamillard forwarded him an order to leave the kingdom, telling him that he was to receive a pension of four hundred crowns per annum, and enclosing the first quarter in advance.
As there was no means of evading this command, D'Aygaliers set out for Geneva, accompanied by thirty-three followers, arriving there on the 23rd of September. Once rid of him, Louis the Magnificent thought that he had done his part nobly and that he owed him nothing further, so that d'Aygaliers waited a whole year in vain for the second quarter of his pension.
At the end of this time, as his letters to Chamillard remained unanswered, and finding himself without resources in a foreign country, he believed himself justified in returning to France and taking up his residence on his family estate. Unfortunately, on his way through Lyons, the provost of merchants, hearing of his return, had him arrested, and sent word to the king, who ordered him to be taken to the chateau de Loches. After a year's imprisonment, d'Aygaliers, who had just entered on his thirty-fifth year, resolved to try and escape, preferring to die in the attempt rather than remain a prisoner for life. He succeeded in getting possession of a file with which he removed one of the bars of his window, and by means of knotting his sheets together, he got down, taking the loosened bar with him to serve, in case of need, as a weapon. A sentinel who was near cried, "Who goes there?" but d'Aygaliers stunned him with his bar. The cry, however, had given the alarm: a second sentinel saw a man flying, fired at him, and killed him on the spot.
Such was the reward of the devoted patriotism of Baron d'Aygaliers!
Meantime Roland's troops had increased greatly in number, having been joined by the main body of those who had once been commanded by Cavalier, so that he had, about eight hundred men at his disposal. Some distance away, another chief, named Joanny, had four hundred; Larose, to whom Castanet had transferred his command, found himself at the head of three hundred; Boizeau de Rochegude was followed by one hundred, Saltet de Soustel by two hundred, Louis Coste by fifty, and Catinat by forty, so that, in spite of the victory of Montrevel and the negotiations of M. de Villars, the Camisards still formed an effective force of eighteen hundred and ninety men, not to speak of many single troopers who owned no commander but acted each for himself, and were none the less mischievous for that. All these troops, except these latter, obeyed Roland, who since the defection of Cavalier had been recognised as generalissimo of the forces. M. de Villars thought if he could separate Roland from his troops as he had separated Cavalier, his plans would be more easy to carry out.
So he made use of every means within his reach to gain over Roland, and as soon as one plan failed he tried another. At one moment he was almost sure of obtaining his object by the help of a certain Jourdan de Mianet, a great friend of his, who offered his services as an intermediary, but who failed like all the others, receiving from Roland a positive refusal, so that it became evident that resort must be had to other means than those of persuasion. A sum of 100 Louis had already been set on Roland's head: this sum was now doubled.
Three days afterwards, a young man from Uzes, by name Malarte, in whom Roland had every confidence, wrote to M. de Paratte that the Camisard general intended to pass the night of the 14th of August at the chateau Castelnau.
De Paratte immediately made his dispositions, and ordered Lacoste-Badie, at the head of two companies of dragoons, and all the officers at Uzes who were well mounted, to hold themselves in readiness to start on an expedition at eight o'clock in the evening, but not revealing its object to them till the time came. At eight o'clock, having been told what they had to do, they set off at such a pace that they came in sight of the chateau within an hour, and were obliged to halt and conceal themselves, lest they should appear too soon, before Roland had retired for the night. But they need not have been afraid; the Camisard chief, who was accustomed to rely on all his men as on himself, had gone to bed without any suspicion, having full confidence in the vigilance of one of his officers, named Grimaud, who had stationed himself as sentinel on the roof of the chateau. Led by Malarte, Lacoste-Badie and his dragoons took a narrow covered way, which led them to the foot of the walls, so that when Grimaud saw them it was already too late, the chateau being surrounded on all sides. Firing off his gun, he cried, "To arms!" Roland, roused by the cry and the shot, leaped out of bed, and taking his clothes in one hand and his sword in the other, ran out of his room. At the door he met Grimaud, who, instead of thinking of his own safety, had come to watch over that of his chief. They both ran to the stables to get horses, but three of their men--Marchand, Bourdalie, and Bayos--had been before them and had seized on the best ones, and riding them bare-backed had dashed through the front gates before the dragoons could stop them. The horses that were left were so wretched that Roland felt there was no chance of out-distancing the dragoons by their help, so he resolved to fly on foot, thus avoiding the open roads and being able to take refuge in every ravine and every bush as cover. He therefore hastened with Grimaud and four other officers who had gathered round him towards a small back gate which opened on the fields, but as there was, besides the troops which entered the chateau, a ring of dragoons round it, they fell at once into the hands of some men who had been placed in ambush. Seeing himself surrounded, Roland let fall the clothes which he had not yet had time to put on, placed his back against a tree, drew his sword, and challenged the boldest, whether officer or private, to approach. His features expressed such resolution, that when he thus, alone and half naked, defied them all, there was a moment's hesitation, during which no one ventured to take a forward step; but this pause was broken by the report of a gun: the arm which Roland had stretched out against his adversaries fell to his side, the sword with which he had threatened them escaped from his hand, his knees gave way, so that his body, which was only supported by the tree against which he leaned, after remaining an instant erect, gradually sank to the ground. Collecting all his strength, Roland raised his two hands to Heaven, as if to call down the vengeance of God upon his murderers, then, without having uttered a single word, he fell forward dead, shot through the heart. The name of the dragoon who killed him was Soubeyrand.
Maillie, Grimaud, Coutereau, Guerin, and Ressal, the five Camisard officers, seeing their chief dead, let themselves be taken as if they were children, without thinking of making any resistance.
The dead body of Roland was carried back in triumph to Uzes, and from there to Nimes, where it was put upon trial as if still alive. It was sentenced to be dragged on hurdles and then burnt. The execution of this sentence was carried out with such pomp as made it impossible for the one party to forget the punishment and for the other to forget the martyrdom. At the end the ashes of Roland were scattered to the four winds of heaven.
The execution of the five officers followed close on that of their chief's body; they were condemned to be broken on the wheel, and the sentence was carried out on all at once. But their death, instead of inspiring the Calvinists with terror, gave them rather fresh courage, for, as an eye-witness relates, the five Camisards bore their tortures not only with fortitude, but with a light-heartedness which surprised all present, especially those who had never seen a Camisard executed before.
Malarte received his 200 Louis, but to-day his name is coupled with that of Judas in the minds of his countrymen.
From this time on fortune ceased to smile on the Camisards. Genius had gone with Cavalier, and, faith with Roland. The very day of the death of the latter, one of their stores, containing more than eighty sacks of corn, had been taken at Toiras. The next day, Catinat, who, with a dozen men, was in hiding in a vineyard of La Vaunage, was surprised by a detachment of Soissonnais; eleven of his men were killed, the twelfth made prisoner, and he himself barely escaped with a severe wound. The 25th of the same month, a cavern near Sauve, which the rebels used as a store, and which contained one hundred and fifty sacks of fine wheat, was discovered; lastly, Chevalier de Froulay had found a third hiding-place near Mailet. In this, which had been used not only as a store but as a hospital, besides a quantity of salt beef, wine, and flour, six wounded Camisards were found, who were instantly shot as they lay.
The only band which remained unbroken was Ravanel's, but since the departure of Cavalier things had not gone well with his lieutenant.
In consequence of this, and also on account of the successive checks which the other bodies of Camisard troops had met with, Ravanel proclaimed a solemn fast, in order to intercede with God to protect the Huguenot cause. On Saturday, the 13th September, he led his entire force to the wood of St. Benazet, intending to pass the whole of the next day with them there in prayer. But treason was rife. Two peasants who knew of this plan gave information to M. Lenoir, mayor of Le Vigan, and he sent word to the marechal and M. de Saville, who were at Anduze.
Nothing could have been more welcome to the governor than this important information: he made the most careful disposition of his forces, hoping to destroy the rebellion at one blow. He ordered M. de Courten, a brigadier-colonel in command at Alais, to take a detachment of the troops under him and patrol the banks of the Gardon between Ners and Castagnols. He was of opinion that if the Camisards were attacked on the other side by a body of soldiers drawn from Anduze, which he had stationed during the night at Dommersargues, they would try to make good their retreat towards the river. The force at Dommersargues might almost be called a small army; for it was composed of a Swiss battalion, a battalion of the Hainault regiment, one from the Charolais regiment, and four companies of dragoons from Fimarcon and Saint-Sernin.
Everything took place as the peasants had said: on Saturday the 13th, the Camisards entered, as we have seen, the wood of St. Benazet, and passed the night there.
At break of day the royals from Dommersargues began their advance. The Camisard outposts soon perceived the movement, and warned Ravanel, who held his little council of war. Everyone was in favour of instant retreat, so they retired towards Ners, intending to cross the Gardon below that town: just as M. de Villars had foreseen, the Camisards did everything necessary for the success of his plans, and ended by walking right into the trap set for them.
On emerging from the wood of St. Benazet, they caught sight of a detachment of royals drawn up and waiting for them between Marvejols and a mill called the Moulin-du-Pont. Seeing the road closed in this direction, they turned sharp to the left, and gained a rocky valley which ran parallel to the Gardon. This they followed till they came out below Marvejols, where they crossed the river. They now thought themselves out of danger, thanks to this manoeuvre, but suddenly they saw another detachment of royals lying on the grass near the mill of La Scie. They at once halted again, and then, believing themselves undiscovered, turned back, moving as noiselessly as possible, intending to recross the river and make for Cardet. But they only avoided one trap to fall into another, for in this direction they were met by the Hainault battalion, which swooped down upon them. A few of these ill-fated men rallied at the sound of Ravanel's voice and made an effort to defend themselves in spite of the prevailing confusion; but the danger was so imminent, the foes so numerous, and their numbers decreased so rapidly under the fierce assault, that their example failed of effect, and flight became general: every man trusted to chance for guidance, and, caring nothing for the safety of others, thought only of his own.
Then it ceased to be a battle and become a massacre, for the royals were ten to one; and among those they encountered, only sixty had firearms, the rest, since the discovery of their various magazines, having been reduced to arm themselves with bad swords, pitchforks, and bayonets attached to sticks. Hardly a man survived the fray. Ravanel himself only succeeded in escaping by throwing himself into the river, where he remained under water between two rocks for seven hours, only coming to the surface to breathe. When night fell and the dragoons had retired, he also fled.
This was the last battle of the war, which had lasted four years. With Cavalier and Roland, those two mountain giants, the power of the rebels disappeared. As the news of the defeat spread, the Camisard chiefs and soldiers becoming convinced that the Lord had hidden His face from them, surrendered one by one. The first to set an example was Castanet. On September 6th, a week after the defeat of Ravanel, he surrendered to the marechal. On the 19th, Catinat and his lieutenant, Franqois Souvayre, tendered their submission; on the 22nd, Amet, Roland's brother, came in; on October 4th, Joanny; on the 9th, Larose, Valette, Salomon, Laforet, Moulieres, Salles, Abraham and Marion; on the 20th, Fidele; and on the 25th, Rochegude.
Each made what terms he could; in general the conditions were favourable. Most of those who submitted received rewards of money, some more, some less; the smallest amount given being 200 livres. They all received passports, and were ordered to leave the kingdom, being sent, accompanied by an escort and at the king's expense, to Geneva. The following is the account given by Marion of the agreement he came to with the Marquis Lalande; probably all the others were of the same nature.
"I was deputed," he says, "to treat with this lieutenant-general in regard to the surrender of my own troops and those of Larose, and to arrange terms for the inhabitants of thirty-five parishes who had contributed to our support during the war. The result of the negotiations was that all the prisoners from our cantons should be set at liberty, and be reinstated in their possessions, along with all the others. The inhabitants of those parishes which had been ravaged by fire were to be exempt from land-tax for three years; and in no parish were the inhabitants to be taunted with the past, nor molested on the subject of religion, but were to be free to worship God in their own houses according to their consciences."
These agreements were fulfilled with such punctuality, that Larose was permitted to open the prison doors of St. Hippolyte to forty prisoners the very day he made submission.
As we have said, the Camisards, according as they came in, were sent off to Geneva. D'Aygaliers, whose fate we have anticipated, arrived there on September 23rd, accompanied by Cavalier's eldest brother, Malpach, Roland's secretary, and thirty-six Camisards. Catinat and Castanet arrived there on the 8th October, along with twenty-two other persons, while Larose, Laforet, Salomon, Moulieres, Salles, Marion, and Fidele reached it under the escort of forty dragoons from Fimarcon in the month of November.
Of all the chiefs who had turned Languedoc for four years into a vast arena, only Ravanel remained, but he refused either to surrender or to leave the country. On the 8th October the marechal issued an order declaring he had forfeited all right to the favour of an amnesty, and offering a reward of 150 Louis to whoever delivered him up living, and 2400 livres to whoever brought in his dead body, while any hamlet, village, or town which gave him refuge would be burnt to the ground and the inhabitants put to the sword.
The revolt seemed to be at an end and peace established. So the marechal was recalled to court, and left Nimes on January the 6th. Before his departure he received the States of Languedoc, who bestowed on him not only the praise which was his due for having tempered severity with mercy, but also a purse of 12,000 livres, while a sum of 8000 livres was presented to his wife. But all this was only a prelude to the favours awaiting him at court. On the day he returned to Paris the king decorated him with all the royal orders and created him a duke. On the following day he received him, and thus addressed him: "Sir, your past services lead me to expect much of those you will render me in the future. The affairs of my kingdom would be better conducted if I had several Villars at my disposal. Having only one, I must always send him where he is most needed. It was for that reason I sent you to Languedoc. You have, while there, restored tranquillity to my subjects, you must now defend them against their enemies; for I shall send you to command my army on the Moselle in the next campaign."
The, Duke of Berwick arrived at Montpellier on the 17th March to replace Marechal Villars. His first care was to learn from M. de Baville the exact state of affairs. M. de Baville told him that they were not at all settled as they appeared to be on the surface. In fact, England and Holland, desiring nothing so much as that an intestine war should waste France, were making unceasing efforts to induce the exiles to return home, promising that this time they would really support them by lending arms, ammunition, and men, and it was said that some were already on their way back, among the number Castanet.
And indeed the late rebel chief, tired of inaction, had left Geneva in the end of February, and arrived safely at Vivarais. He had held a religious meeting in a cave near La Goree, and had drawn to his side Valette of Vals and Boyer of Valon. Just as the three had determined to penetrate into the Cevennes, they were denounced by some peasants before a Swiss officer named Muller, who was in command of a detachment of troops in the village of Riviere. Muller instantly mounted his horse, and guided by the informers made his way into the little wood in which the Camisards had taken refuge, and fell upon them quite unexpectedly. Boyer was killed in trying to escape; Castanet was taken and brought to the nearest prison, where he was joined the next day by Valette, who had also been betrayed by some peasants whom he had asked for assistance.
The first punishment inflicted on Castanet was, that he was compelled to carry in his hand the head of Boyer all the way from La Goree to Montpellier. He protested vehemently at first, but in vain: it was fastened to his wrist by the hair; whereupon he kissed it on both cheeks, and went through the ordeal as if it were a religious act, addressing words of prayer to the head as he might have done to a relic of a martyr.
Arrived at Montpellier, Castanet was examined, and at first persisted in saying that he had only returned from exile because he had not the wherewithal to live abroad. But when put to the torture he was made to endure such agony that, despite his courage and constancy, he confessed that he had formed a plan to introduce a band of Huguenot soldiers with their officers into the Cevennes by way of Dauphine or by water, and while waiting for their arrival he had sent on emissaries in advance to rouse the people to revolt; that he himself had also shared in this work; that Catinat was at the moment in Languedoc or Vivarais engaged in the same task, and provided with a considerable sum of money sent him by foreigners for distribution, and that several persons of still greater importance would soon cross the frontier and join him.
Castanet was condemned to be broken on the wheel. As he was about to be led to execution, Abbe Tremondy, the cure of Notre-Dame, and Abbe Plomet, canon of the cathedral, came to his cell to make a last effort to convert him, but he refused to speak. They therefore went on before, and awaited him on the scaffold. There they appeared to inspire Castanet with more horror than the instruments of torture, and while he addressed the executioner as "brother," he called out to the priests, "Go away out of my sight, imps from the bottomless pit! What are you doing here, you accursed tempters? I will die in the religion in which I was born. Leave me alone, ye hypocrites, leave me alone!" But the two abbes were unmoved, and Castanet expired cursing, not the executioner but the two priests, whose presence during his death-agony disturbed his soul, turning it away from things which should have filled it.
Valette was sentenced to be hanged, and was executed on the same day as Castanet.
In spite of the admissions wrung from Castanet in March, nearly a month passed without any sign of fresh intrigues or any attempt at rebellion. But on the 17th of April, about seven o'clock in the evening, M. de Baville received intelligence that several Camisards had lately returned from abroad, and were in hiding somewhere, though their retreat was not known. This information was laid before the Duke of Berwick, and he and M. de Baville ordered certain houses to be searched, whose owners were in their opinion likely to have given refuge to the malcontents. At midnight all the forces which they could collect were divided into twelve detachments, composed of archers and soldiers, and at the head of each detachment was placed a man that could be depended upon. Dumayne, the king's lieutenant, assigned to each the districts they were to search, and they all set out at once from the town hall, at half-past twelve, marching in silence, and separating at signs from their leaders, so anxious were they to make no noise. At first all their efforts were of no avail, several houses being searched without any result; but at length Jausserand, the diocesan provost, having entered one of the houses which he and Villa, captain of the town troops, had had assigned to them, they found three men sleeping on mattresses laid on the floor. The provost roused them by asking them who they were, whence they came, and what they were doing at Montpellier, and as they, still half asleep, did not reply quite promptly, he ordered them to dress and follow him.
These three men were Flessiere, Gaillard, and Jean-Louis. Flessiere was a deserter from the Fimarcon regiment: he it was who knew most about the plot. Gaillard had formerly served in the Hainault regiment; and Jean-Louis, commonly called "the Genevois," was a deserter from the Courten regiment.
Flessiere, who was the leader, felt that it would be a great disgrace to let themselves be taken without resistance; he therefore pretended to obey, but in lifting up his clothes, which lay upon a trunk, he managed to secure two pistols, which he cocked. At the noise made by the hammers the provost's suspicions were aroused, and throwing himself on Flessiere, he seized him round the waist from behind. Flessiere, unable to turn, raised his arm and fired over his shoulder. The shot missed the provost, merely burning a lock of his hair, but slightly wounded one of his servants, who was carrying a lantern. He then tried to fire a second shot, but Jausserand, seizing him by the wrist with one hand, blew out his brains with the other. While Jausserand and Flessiere were thus struggling, Gaillard threw himself on Villa, pinning his arms to his sides. As he had no weapons, he tried to push him to the wall, in order to stun him by knocking his head against it; but when the servant, being wounded, let the lantern fall, he took advantage of the darkness to make a dash for the door, letting go his hold of his antagonist. Unfortunately for him, the doors, of which there were two, were guarded, and the guards, seeing a half-naked man running away at the top of his speed, ran after him, firing several shots. He received a wound which, though not dangerous, impeded his flight, so that he was boon overtaken and captured. They brought him back a prisoner to the town hall, where Flessiere's dead body already lay.
Meanwhile Jean-Louis had had better luck. While the two struggles as related above were going on, he slipped unnoticed to an open window and got out into the street. He ran round the corner of the house, and disappeared like a shadow in the darkness before the eyes of the guards. For a long time he wandered from street to street, running down one and up another, till chance brought him near La Poissonniere. Here he perceived a beggar propped against a post and fast asleep; he awoke him, and proposed that they should exchange clothes. As Jean-Louis' suit was new and the beggar's in rags, the latter thought at first it was a joke. Soon perceiving, however, that the offer was made in all seriousness, he agreed to the exchange, and the two separated, each delighted with his bargain. Jean-Louis approached one of the gates of the town, in order to be able to get out as soon as it was opened, and the beggar hastened off in another direction, in order to get away from the man who had let him have so good a bargain, before he had time to regret the exchange he had made.
But the night's adventures were far from being over. The beggar was taken a prisoner, Jean-Louis' coat being recognised, and brought to the town hall, where the mistake was discovered. The Genevois meantime got into a dark street, and lost his way. Seeing three men approach, one of whom carried a lantern, he went towards the light, in order to find out where he was, and saw, to his surprise, that one of the men was the servant whom Flessiere had wounded, and who was now going to have his wound dressed. The Genevois tried to draw back into the shade, but it was too late: the servant had recognised him. He then tried to fly; but the wounded man soon overtook him, and although one of his hands was disabled, he held him fast with the other, so that the two men who were with him ran up and easily secured him. He also was brought to the town hall, where he found the Duke of Berwick and M. de Baville, who were awaiting the result of the affray.
Hardly had the prisoner caught sight of them than, seeing himself already hanged, which was no wonder considering the marvellous celerity with which executions were conducted at that epoch, he threw himself on his knees, confessed who he was, and related for what reason he had joined the fanatics. He went on to say that as he had not joined them of his own free will, but had been forced to do so, he would, if they would spare his life, reveal important secrets to them, by means of which they could arrest the principal conspirators.
His offer was so tempting and his life of so little worth that the duke and de Baville did not long hesitate, but pledged their word to spare his life if the revelations he was about to make proved to be of real importance. The bargain being concluded, the Genevois made the following statement:
"That several letters having arrived from foreign countries containing promises of men and money, the discontented in the provinces had leagued together in order to provoke a fresh rebellion. By means of these letters and other documents which were scattered abroad, hopes were raised that M. de Miremont, the last Protestant prince of the house of Bourbon, would bring them reinforcements five or six thousand strong. These reinforcements were to come by sea and make a descent on Aigues-Mortes or Cette,--and two thousand Huguenots were to arrive at the same time by way of Dauphine and join the others as they disembarked.
"That in this hope Catinat, Clary, and Jonquet had left Geneva and returned to France, and having joined Ravanel had gone secretly through those parts of the country known to be infected with fanaticism, and made all necessary arrangements, such as amassing powder and lead, munitions of war, and stores of all kinds, as well as enrolling the names of all those who were of age to bear arms. Furthermore, they had made an estimate of what each city, town, and village ought to contribute in money or in kind to the--League of the Children of God, so that they could count on having eight or ten thousand men ready to rise at the first signal. They had furthermore resolved that there should be risings in several places at the same time, which places were already chosen, and each of those who were to take part in the movement knew his exact duty. At Montpellier a hundred of the most determined amongst the disaffected were to set fire in different quarters to the houses of the Catholics, killing all who attempted to extinguish the fires, and with the help of the Huguenot inhabitants were, to slaughter the garrison, seize the citadel, and carry off the Duke of Berwick and M. de Baville. The same things were to be done at Nimes, Uzes, Alais, Anduze, Saint-Hippolyte, and Sommieres. Lastly, he said, this conspiracy had been going on for more than three months, and the conspirators, in order not to be found out, had only revealed their plans to those whom they knew to be ready to join them: they had not admitted a single woman to their confidence, or any man whom it was possible to suspect. Further, they had only met at night and a few persons at a time, in certain country houses, to which admittance was gained by means of a countersign; the 25th of April was the day fixed for the general rising and the execution of these projects."
As may be seen, the danger was imminent, as there was only six days' interval between the revelation and the expected outburst; so the Genevois was consulted, under renewed promises of safety for himself, as to the best means of seizing on the principal chiefs in the shortest possible time. He replied that he saw no other way but to accompany them himself to Nimes, where Catinat and Ravanel were in hiding, in a house of which he did not know the number and in a street of which he did not know the name, but which he was sure of recognising when he saw them. If this advice were to be of any avail, there was no time to be lost, for Ravanel and Catinat were to leave Nimes on the 20th or the 21st at latest; consequently, if they did not set off at once, the chiefs would no longer be there when they arrived. The advice seemed good, so the marechal and the intendant hastened to follow it: the informer was sent to Nimes guarded by six archers, the conduct of the expedition was given to Barnier, the provost's lieutenant, a man of intellect and common sense, and in whom the provost had full confidence. He carried letters for the Marquis of Sandricourt.
As they arrived late on the evening of the 19th, the Genevois was at once led up and down the streets of Nimes, and, as he had promised, he pointed out several houses in the district of Sainte-Eugenie. Sandricourt at once ordered the garrison officers, as well as those of the municipal and Courten regiments, to put all their soldiers under arms and to station them quietly throughout the town so as to surround that district. At ten o'clock, the Marquis of Sandricourt, having made certain that his instructions had been carefully carried out, gave orders to MM. de L'Estrade, Barnier, Joseph Martin, Eusebe, the major of the Swiss regiment, and several other officers, along with ten picked men, to repair to the house of one Alison, a silk merchant, this house having been specially pointed out by the prisoner. This they did, but seeing the door open, they had little hope of finding the chiefs of a conspiracy in a place so badly guarded; nevertheless, determined to obey their instructions, they glided softly into the hall. In a few moments, during which silence and darkness reigned, they heard people speaking rather loudly in an adjoining room, and by listening intently they caught the following words: "It is quite sure that in less than three weeks the king will be no longer master of Dauphine, Vivarais, and Languedoc. I am being sought for everywhere, and here I am in Nimes, with nothing to fear."
It was now quite clear to the listeners that close at hand were some at least of those for whom they were looking. They ran to the door, which was ajar, and entered the room, sword in hand. They found Ravanel, Jonquet, and Villas talking together, one sitting on a table, another standing on the hearth, and the third lolling on a bed.
Jonquet was a young man from Sainte-Chatte, highly thought of among the Camisards. He had been, it may be remembered, one of Cavalier's principal officers. Villas was the son of a doctor in Saint-Hippolyte; he was still young, though he had seen ten years' service, having been cornet in England in the Galloway regiment. As to Ravanel, he is sufficiently known to our readers to make any words of introduction unnecessary.
De l'Estrade threw himself on the nearest of the three, and, without using his sword, struck him with his fist. Ravanel (for it was he) being half stunned, fell back a step and asked the reason of this violent assault; while Barnier exclaimed, "Hold him fast, M. de l'Estrade; it is Ravanel!" "Well, yes, I am Ravanel," said the Camisard, "but that is no reason for making so much noise." As he said these words he made an attempt to reach his weapons, but de l'Estrade and Barnier prevented him by throwing themselves on him, and succeeded in knocking him down after a fierce struggle. While, this was going on, his two companions were secured, and the three were removed to the fort, where their guard never left them night or day.
The Marquis of Sandricourt immediately sent off a courier to the Duke of Berwick and M. de Baville to inform them of the important capture he had made. They were so delighted at the news that they came next day to Nimes.
They found the town intensely excited, soldiers with fixed bayonets at every street corner, all the houses shut up, and the gates of the town closed, and no one allowed to leave without written permission from Sandricourt. On the 20th, and during the following night, more than fifty persons were arrested, amongst whom were Alison, the merchant in whose house Ravanel, Villas, and Jonquet were found; Delacroix, Alison's brother-in-law, who, on hearing the noise of the struggle, had hidden on the roof and was not discovered till next day; Jean Lauze, who was accused of having prepared Ravanel's supper; Lauze's mother, a widow; Tourelle, the maid-servant; the host of the Coupe d'Or, and a preacher named La Jeunesse.
Great, however, as was the joy felt by the duke, the marquis, and de Baville, it fell short of full perfection, for the most dangerous man among the rebels was still at large; in spite of every effort, Catinat's hiding-place had not till now been discovered.
Accordingly, the duke issued a proclamation offering a reward of one hundred Louis-d'or to whoever would take Catinat, or cause him to be taken prisoner, and granting a free pardon to anyone who had sheltered him, provided that he was denounced before the house-to-house visitation which was about to be made took place. After the search began, the master of the house in which he might be found would be hung at his own door, his family thrown into prison, his goods confiscated, his house razed to the ground, without any form of trial whatever.
This proclamation had the effect expected by the duke: whether the man in whose house Catinat was concealed grew frightened and asked him to leave, or whether Catinat thought his best course would be to try and get away from the town, instead of remaining shut up in it, he dressed himself one morning in suitable clothes, and went to a barber's, who shaved him, cut his hair, and made up his face so as to give him as much the appearance of a nobleman as possible; and then with wonderful assurance he went out into the streets, and pulling his hat over his eyes and holding a paper in his hand as if reading it, he crossed the town to the gate of St. Antoine. He was almost through when Charreau, the captain of the guard, having his attention directed to Catinat by a comrade to whom he was talking, stopped him, suspecting he was trying to escape. Catinat asked what he wanted with him, and Charreau replied that if he would enter the guard-house he would learn; as under such circumstances any examination was to be avoided, Catinat tried to force his way out; whereupon he was seized by Charreau and his brother-officer, and Catinat seeing that resistance would be not only useless but harmful, allowed himself to be taken to the guard-room.
He had been there about an hour without being recognised by any of those who, drawn by curiosity, came to look at him, when one of the visitors in going out said he bore a strong resemblance to Catinat; some children hearing these words, began to shout, "Catinat is taken! Catinat is taken!" This cry drew a large crowd to the guard-house, among others a man whose name was Anglejas, who, looking closely at the prisoner, recognised him and called him by name.
Instantly the guard was doubled, and Catinat searched: a psalm-book with a silver clasp and a letter addressed to "M. Maurel, called Catinat," were found on him, leaving no doubt as to his identity; while he himself, growing impatient, and desiring to end all these investigations, acknowledged that he was Catinat and no other.
He was at once taken to the palace, where the Presidial Court was sitting, M. de Baville and the president being occupied in trying Ravanel, Villas, and Jonquet. On hearing the news of this important capture, the intendant, hardly daring to believe his ears, rose and went out to meet the prisoner, in order to convince himself that it was really Catinat.
From the Presidial Court he was brought before the Duke of Berwick, who addressed several questions to him, which Catinat answered; he then told the duke he had something of importance to impart to him and to him alone. The duke was not very anxious for a tete-a-tete with Catinat; however, having ordered his hands to be securely bound, and telling Sandricourt not to go away, he consented to hear what the prisoner had to say.
Catinat then, in the presence of the duke and Sandricourt, proposed that an exchange of prisoners should be made, the Marechal de Tallard, who was a prisoner of war in England, being accepted in his place. Catinat added that if this offer was not accepted, the marechal would meet the same treatment from the English as might be meted out to him, Catinat, in France. The duke, full of the aristocratic ideas to which he was born, found the proposal insolent, and said, "If that is all you have to propose, I can assure you that your hours are numbered."
Thereupon Catinat was promptly sent back to the palace, where truly his trial did not occupy much time. That of the three others was already finished, and soon his was also at an end, and it only remained to pronounce sentence on all four. Catinat and Ravanel, as the most guilty, were condemned to be burnt at the stake. Some of the councillors thought Catinat should have been torn apart by four horses, but the majority were for the stake, the agony lasting longer, being more violent and more exquisite than in the of other case.
Villars and Jonquet were sentenced to be broken on the wheel alive--the only difference between them being that Jonquet was to be to taken while still living and thrown into the fire lit round Catinat and Ravael. It was also ordered that the four condemned men before their execution should be put to the torture ordinary and extraordinary. Catinat, whose temper was fierce, suffered with courage, but cursed his torturers. Ravanel bore all the torments that could be inflicted on him with a fortitude that was more than human, so that the torturers were exhausted before he was. Jonquet spoke little, and the revelations he made were of slight importance. Villas confessed that the conspirators had the intention of carrying off the duke and M. de Baville when they were out walking or driving, and he added that this plot had been hatched at the house of a certain Boeton de Saint-Laurent-d'Aigozre, at Milhaud, in Rouergue.
Meanwhile all this torturing and questioning had taken so much time that when the stake and the scaffold were ready it was almost dark, so that the duke put off the executions until the next day, instead of carrying them out by torchlight. Brueys says that this was done in order that the most disaffected amongst the fanatics should not be able to say that it was not really Catinat, Ravanel, Villas, and Jonquet who had been executed but some other unknown men; but it is more probable that the duke and Baville were afraid of riots, as was proved by their ordering the scaffold and the stake to be erected at the end of the Cours and opposite the glacis of the fortress, so that the garrison might be at hand in case of any disturbance.
Catinat was placed in a cell apart, and could be, heard cursing and complaining all night through. Ravanel, Villas, and Jonquet were confined together, and passed the night singing and praying.
The next day, the 22nd April, 1705, they were taken from the prison and drawn to the place of execution in two carts, being unable to walk, on account of the severe torture to which they had been subjected, and which had crushed the bones of their legs. A single pile of wood had been prepared for Catinat and Ravanel, who were to be burnt together; they were in one cart, and Villas and Jonquet, for whom two wheels had been prepared, were in the other.
The first operation was to bind Catinat and Ravanel back to back to the same stake, care being taken to place Catinat with his face to windward, so that his agony might last longer, and then the pile was lit under Ravanel.
As had been foreseen, this precaution gave great pleasure to those people who took delight in witnessing executions. The wind being rather high, blew the flames away from Catinat, so that at first the fire burnt his legs only--a circumstance which, the author of the History of the Camisards tells us, aroused Catinat's impatience. Ravanel, however, bore everything to the end with the greatest heroism, only pausing in his singing to address words of encouragement to his companion in suffering, whom he could not see, but whose groans and curses he could hear; he would then return to his psalms, which he continued to sing until his voice was stifled in the flames. Just as he expired, Jonquet was removed from the wheel, and carried, his broken limbs dangling, to the burning pile, on which he was thrown. From the midst of the flames his voice was heard saying, "Courage, Catinat; we shall soon meet in heaven." A few moments later, the stake, being burnt through at the base, broke, and Catinat falling into the flames, was quickly suffocated. That this accident had not been forseen and prevented by proper precautions caused great displeasure to spectators who found that the three-quarter of an hour which the spectacle had lasted was much too brief a time.
Villas lived three hours longer on his wheel, and expired without having uttered a single complaint.
Two days later, there was another trial, at which six persons were condemned to death and one to the galleys; these were the two Alisons, in whose house Villas, Ravanel, and Jonquet had been found; Alegre, who was accused of having concealed Catinat, and of having been the Camisard treasurer; Rougier, an armourer who was found guilty of having repaired the muskets of the rebels; Jean Lauze, an innkeeper who had prepared meals for Ravanel; La Jeunesse, a preacher, convicted of having preached sermons and sung psalms; and young Delacroix, brother-in-law to one of the Alisons. The first three were condemned to be broken on the wheel, their houses demolished, and their goods confiscated. The next three were to be hanged. Jean Delacroix, partly because of his youth, but more because of the revelations he made, was only sent to the galleys. Several years later he was liberated and returned to Arles, and was carried off by the plague in 1720.
All these sentences were carried out with the utmost rigour.
Thus, as may be seen, the suppression of the revolt proceeded apace; only two young Camisard chiefs were still at large, both of whom had formerly served under Cavalier and Catinat. The name of the one was Brun and of the other Francezet. Although neither of them possessed the genius and influence of Catinat and Ravanel, yet they were both men to be feared, the one on account of his personal strength, the other for his skill and agility. Indeed, it was said of him that he never missed a shot, and that one day being pursued by dragoons he had escaped by jumping over the Gardon at a spot where it was twenty-two feet wide.
For a long time all search was in vain, but one day the wife of a miller named Semenil came into town ostensibly to buy provisions, but really to denounce them as being concealed, with two other Camisards, in her husband's house.
This information was received with an eager gratitude, which showed the importance which the governor of Nimes attached to their capture. The woman was promised a reward of fifty Louis if they were taken, and the Chevalier de la Valla, Grandidier, and fifty Swiss, the major of the Saint-Sernin regiment, a captain, and thirty dragoons, were sent off to make the capture. When they were within a quarter of a league of the mill, La Valla, who was in command of the expedition, made the woman give him all the necessary topographical information.
Having learned that besides the door by which they hoped to effect an entrance, the mill possessed only one other, which opened on a bridge over the Vistre, he despatched ten dragoons and five Swiss to occupy this bridge, whilst he and the rest of the troops bore down on the main entrance. As soon as the four Camisards perceived the approach of the soldiers, their first thought was to escape by the bridge, but one of them having gone up to the roof to make sure that the way was clear, came down exclaiming that the bridge was occupied. On hearing this, the four felt that they were lost, but nevertheless resolved to defend themselves as valiantly and to sell their lives as dearly as possible. As soon as the royals were within musket range of the mill, four shots were fired, and two dragoons, one Swiss, and one horse, fell. M. de Valla thereupon ordered the troops to charge at full gallop, but before the mill door was reached three other shots were heard, and two more men killed. Nevertheless, seeing they could not long hold out against such numbers, Francezet gave the signal for retreat, calling out, "Sauve qui petit!" at the same instant he jumped out of a lattice window twenty feet from the ground, followed by Brun. Neither of them being hurt, both set off across country, one trusting to his strength and the other to his fleetness of foot. The two other Camisards, who had tried to escape by the door, were captured.
The soldiers, horse and foot, being now free to give all their attention to Brun and Francezet, a wonderful race began; for the two fugitives, being strong and active, seemed to play with their pursuers, stopping every now and then, when they had gained sufficient headway, to shoot at the nearest soldiers; when Francezet, proving worthy of his reputation, never missed a single shot. Then, resuming their flight and loading their weapons as they ran, they leaped rivers and ditches, taking advantage of the less direct road which the troops were obliged to follow, to stop and take breath, instead of making for some cover where they might have found safety. Two or three times Brun was on the point of being caught, but each time the dragoon or Swiss who had got up to him fell, struck by Francezet's unerring bullet. The chase lasted four hours, during which time five officers, thirty dragoons, and fifty Swiss were baffled by two men, one of whom Francezet was almost a boy, being only twenty years old! Then the two Camisards, having exhausted their ammunition, gave each other the name of a village as a rendezvous, and each taking a different direction, bounded away with the lightness of a stag. Francezet ran in the direction of Milhaud with such rapidity that he gained on the dragoons, although they put their horses at full speed. He was within an inch of safety, when a peasant named La Bastide, who was hoeing in a field, whence he had watched the contest with interest from the moment he had first caught sight of it, seeing the fugitive make for an opening in a wall, ran along at the foot of the wall on the other side, and, just as Francezet dashed through the opening like a flash of lightning, struck him such a heavy blow on the head with his hoe that the skull was laid open, and he fell bathed in blood.
The dragoons, who had seen in the distance what had happened, now came up, and rescued Francezet from the hands of his assailant, who had continued to rain blows upon him, desiring to put an end to him. The unconscious Camisard was carried to Milhaud, where his wounds were bandaged, and himself revived by means of strong spirits forced into mouth and nostrils.
We now return to Brun. At first it seemed as if he were more fortunate than his comrade; for, meeting with no obstacle, he was soon not only out of reach, but out of sight of his enemies. He now, however, felt broken by fatigue, and taught caution by the treachery to which he had almost fallen a victim, he dared not ask for an asylum, so, throwing himself down in a ditch, he was soon fast asleep. The dragoons, who had not given up the search, presently came upon him, and falling on him as he lay, overpowered him before he was well awake.
When both Camisards met before the governor, Francezet replied to all interrogations that since the death of brother Catinat his sole desire had been to die a martyr's death like him; while Brun said that he was proud and happy to die in the cause of the Lord along with such a brave comrade as Francezet. This manner of defence led to the application of the question both ordinary and extraordinary, and to the stake; and our readers already know what such a double sentence meant. Francezet and Brun paid both penalties on the 30th of April, betraying no secrets and uttering no complaints.
Boeton, who had been denounced by Villas when under torture (and who thereby abridged his agony) as the person in whose house the plot to carry off the Duke of Berwick and de Baville had been arranged, still remained to be dealt with.
He was moderate in his religious views, but firm and full of faith; his principles resembled those of the Quakers in that he refused to carry arms; he was, however, willing to aid the good cause by all other means within his reach. He was at home waiting, with that calm which perfect trust in God gives, for the day to come which had been appointed for the execution of the plan, when suddenly his house was surrounded during the night by the royals. Faithful to his principles, he offered no resistance, but held out his hands to be bound. He was taken in triumph to Nimes, and from there to the citadel of Montpellier. On the way he encountered his wife and his son, who were going to the latter town to intercede for him. When they met him, they dismounted from their horse, for the mother was riding on a pillion behind the son, and kneeling on the highroad, asked for Boeton's blessing. Unfeeling though the soldiers were, they yet permitted their prisoner to stop an instant, while he, raising his fettered hands to heaven, gave the double blessing asked for. So touched was Baron Saint-Chatte by the scene (be it remarked in passing that the baron and Boeton were cousins by marriage) that he permitted them to embrace one another, so for a few moments they stood, the husband and father clasped to the hearts of his dear ones; then, on a sign from Boeton, they tore themselves away, Boeton commanding them to pray for M. de Saint-Chatte, who had given them this consolation. As he resumed his march the prisoner set them the example by beginning to sing a psalm for the benefit of M. de Saint-Chatte.
The next day, despite the intercession of his wife and son, Boeton was condemned to torture both ordinary and extraordinary, and then to be broken on the wheel. On hearing this cruel sentence, he said that he was ready to suffer every ill that God might send him in order to prove the steadfastness of his faith.
And indeed he endured his torture with such firmness, that M. de Baville, who was present in the hope of obtaining a confession, became more impatient than the sufferer, and, forgetting his sacred office, the judge struck and insulted the prisoner. Upon this Baeton raised his eyes to heaven and cried, "Lord, Lord! how long shall the wicked triumph? How long shall innocent blood be shed? How long wilt Thou not judge and avenge our blood with cries to Thee? Remember Thy jealousy, O Lord, and Thy loving-kindness of old!" Then M. de Baville withdrew, giving orders that he was to be brought to the scaffold.
The scaffold was erected on the Esplanade: being, as was usual when this sort of death was to be inflicted, a wooden platform five or six feet high, on which was fastened flat a St. Andrew's cross, formed of two beams of wood in the form of an X. In each of the four arms two square pieces were cut out to about half the depth of the beam, and about a foot apart, so that when the victim was bound on the cross the outstretched limbs were easy to break by a blow at these points, having no support beneath. Lastly, near the cross, at one corner of the scaffold an upright wooden post was fixed, on which was fastened horizontally a small carriage wheel, as on a pivot, the projecting part of the nave being sawn off to make it flat. On this bed of pain the sufferer was laid, so that the spectators might enjoy the sight of his dying convulsions when, the executioner having accomplished his part, the turn of death arrived.
Boeton was carried to execution in a cart, and drums were beaten that his exhortations might not be heard. But above the roll of drums his voice rose unfalteringly, as he admonished his brethren to uphold their fellowship in Christ.
Half-way to the Esplanade a friend of the condemned man, who happened to be in the street, met the procession, and fearing that he could not support the sight, he took refuge in a shop. When Boeton was opposite the door, he stopped the cart and asked permission of the provost to speak to his friend. The request being granted, he called him out, and as he approached, bathed in tears, Boeton said, "Why do you run away from me? Is it because you see me covered with the tokens of Jesus Christ? Why do you weep because He has graciously called me to Himself, and all unworthy though I be, permits me to seal my faith with my blood?" Then, as the friend threw himself into Boeton's arms and some signs of sympathetic emotion appeared among the crowd; the procession was abruptly ordered to move on; but though the leave-taking was thus roughly broken short, no murmur passed the lips of Boeton.
In turning out of the first street, the scaffold came in sight; the condemned man raised his hands towards heaven, and exclaimed in a cheerful voice, while a smile lit up his face, "Courage, my soul! I see thy place of triumph, whence, released from earthly bonds, thou shah take flight to heaven."
When he got to the foot of the scaffold, it was found he could not mount without assistance; for his limbs, crushed in the terrible "boot," could no longer sustain his weight. While they were preparing to carry him up, he exhorted and comforted the Protestants, who were all weeping round him. When he reached the platform he laid himself of his own accord on the cross; but hearing from the executioner that he must first be undressed, he raised himself again with a smile, so that the executioner's assistant could remove his doublet and small-clothes. As he wore no stockings, his legs being bandaged the man also unwound these bandages, and rolled up Boeton's shirts-sleeves to the elbow, and then ordered him to lay himself again on the cross. Boeton did so with unbroken calm. All his limbs were then bound to the beams with cords at every joint; this accomplished, the assistant retired, and the executioner came forward. He held in his hand a square bar of iron, an inch and a half thick, three feet long, and rounded at one end so as to form a handle.
When Boeton saw it he began singing a psalm, but almost immediately the melody was interrupted by a cry: the executioner had broken a bone of Boeton's right leg; but the singing was at once resumed, and continued without interruption till each limb had been broken in two places. Then the executioner unbound the formless but still living body from the cross, and while from its lips issued words of faith in God he laid it on the wheel, bending it back on the legs in such a manner that the heels and head met; and never once during the completion of this atrocious performance did the voice of the sufferer cease to sound forth the praises of the Lord.
No execution till then had ever produced such an effect on the crowd, so that Abbe Massilla, who was present, seeing the general emotion, hastened to call M. de Baville's attention to the fact that, far from Boeton's death inspiring the Protestants with terror, they were only encouraged to hold out, as was proved by their tears, and the praises they lavished on the dying man.
M, de Baville, recognising the truth of this observation, ordered that Boeton should be put out of misery. This order being conveyed to the executioner, he approached the wheel to break in Boeton's chest with one last blow; but an archer standing on the scaffold threw himself before the sufferer, saying that the Huguenot had not yet suffered half enough. At this, Boeton, who had heard the dreadful dispute going on beside him, interrupted his prayers for an instant, and raising his head, which hung down over the edge of the wheel, said, "Friend, you think I suffer, and in truth I do; but He for whom I suffer is beside me and gives me strength to bear everything joyfully." Just then M. de Baville's order was repeated, and the archer, no longer daring to interfere, allowed the executioner to approach. Then Boeton, seeing his last moment had come, said, "My dear friends, may my death be an example to you, to incite you to preserve the gospel pure; bear faithful testimony that I died in the religion of Christ and His holy apostles." Hardly had these words passed his lips, than the death-blow was given and his chest crushed; a few inarticulate sounds, apparently prayers, were heard; the head fell back, the martyrdom was ended.
This execution ended the war in Languedoc. A few imprudent preachers still delivered belated sermons, to which the rebels listened trembling with fear, and for which the preachers paid on the wheel or gibbet. There were disturbances in Vivarais, aroused by Daniel Billard, during which a few Catholics were found murdered on the highway; there were a few fights, as for instance at Sainte-Pierre-Ville, where the Camisards, faithful to the old traditions which had come to them from Cavalier, Catinat, and Ravenal, fought one to twenty, but they were all without importance; they were only the last quiverings of the dying civil strife, the last shudderings of the earth when the eruption of the volcano is over.
Even Cavalier understood that the end had come, for he left Holland for England. There Queen Anne distinguished him by a cordial welcome; she invited him to enter her service, an offer which he accepted, and he was placed in command of a regiment of refugees; so that he actually received in England the grade of colonel, which he had been offered in France. At the battle of Almanza the regiment commanded by Cavalier found itself opposed by a French regiment. The old enemies recognised each other, and with a howl of rage, without waiting for the word of command or executing any military evolutions, they hurled themselves at each other with such fury that, if we may believe the Duke of Berwick, who was present, they almost annihilated each other in the conflict. Cavalier, however, survived the slaughter, in which he had performed his part with energy; and for his courage was made general and governor of the island of Jersey. He died at Chelsea in May 1740, aged sixty years. "I must confess," says Malesherbes, "that this soldier, who without training became a great general by means of his natural gifts; this Camisard, who dared in the face of fierce troopers to punish a crime similar to those by which the troopers existed; this rude peasant, who, admitted into the best society; adopted its manners and gained its esteem and love; this man, who though accustomed to an adventurous life, and who might justly have been puffed up by success, had yet enough philosophy to lead for thirty-five years a tranquil private existence, appears to me to be one of the rarest characters to be met with in the pages of history."
Sorry, no summary available yet.